Support for populist EFF has plunged, poll shows

South Africa’s populist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has seen its support plunge by about half in the last eight months, a Social Research Foundation poll shows.

The survey, conducted before a national shutdown called by the EFF for 20 March, showed the party would win 6% backing assuming there was a 66% election turnout. That compared with 12% in July (2022), similar to what it won in the 2019 national elections.

Read: Sift what good you can from the shutdown protest

Party Support in March Support in July
EFF 6% 12%
ANC 52% 50%
DA 24% 25%

The ruling African National Congress would garner 52% support, while the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, would get 24%, the SRF said.

The poll canvassed the views of 1 517 registered voters across a range of age groups, races and regions.

The poll is the latest indication that the EFF, which was formed in 2013 on a platform of nationalizing everything from land to banks, may be losing steam just over a year before elections.

Its calls for a shutdown garnered limited support among the public, with most businesses staying open and protests attracting small crowds in all towns other than in the capital, Pretoria, where a few thousand people attended.

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While support for the ANC and DA is stable “that for the EFF is down sharply,” the SRF said, cautioning though that the survey had a national margin of error of 4%.

If the impact of voter turnout were disregarded, the EFF would win 8.4% support, the ANC 45.9% and the DA 23.3%, the poll showed.

The EFF won 10.6% of the national vote in 2019, the ANC 57.5% and the DA 20.8%.

Some smaller parties look set to put in a stronger showing. Support for the Inkatha Freedom Party, a Zulu nationalist party, doubled to 6% since July assuming a 66% turnout level, while backing for the right-wing Freedom Front Plus rose to 3% from 2%, the poll showed.

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